Abolition of the internment of convicted prisoners in Belgium: clinical implications
background According to article 21 of the current Belgian law regarding the protection of society, the ministry of Justice can transfer a convicted prisoner to the Commission for the Protection of Society if that prisoner develops a severe mental illness in the course of a prison sentence. The proposed abolition of this article is raising concerns in psychiatric hospitals which are not equipped to deal with dangerous forensic patients.
aim To explore the profiles of convicted internees and to find out to what extent they differ from the profiles of regular internees.
method Convicted internees (n = 48) and regular internees (n = 483) treated in one of the Flemish medium security units were compared on the basis of demographic, clinical and risk factors.
results Compared to regular internees, convicted internees suffered from more serious psychiatric problems and showed a more severe risk profile.
conclusion The abolition of article 21 presents regular psychiatric hospitals with new challenges.